Yes, they're loud: Mild winter, 2 dry summers may be behind extra-noisy cicadas -
Published Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 12:44 am
Yes, they're loud: Mild winter, 2 dry summers may be behind extra-noisy cicadas

Your ears haven't been playing tricks on you.

A cicada population explosion in the Midwest has made this one of the noisiest cicada seasons in memory.

“This has been a phenomenal year,” said University of Nebraska-Lincoln entomologist James Kalisch. “Fascinating.”

Not only have the numbers been phenomenal, but cicadas also are singing later in the fall.

Ken Holscher, an associate professor of entomology at Iowa State University, said no one is certain why this year has produced so many cicadas, but it may be the weather.

Holscher said sustained dry weather — two summers of drought — and a mild winter could be behind the jump in population. Most insects, including cicadas, thrive in dry weather, he said.

The late singing is probably related to their late hatching this spring, Holscher said. The unusually cold spring pushed back life cycles of many species, including cicadas, he said.

Their songs might get on your nerves at times, but take pity on the cicadas.

Only the males sing, and they're desperate to score another rendezvous before their biological clock stops ticking.

In the Midwest, cicadas hatch more or less annually. Farther east, mass hatchings occur on a 13- or 17-year cycle, Kalisch and Holscher said.

Kalisch said a small area of southeast Nebraska will see a 17-year hatching in 2015.

Southeast and central Iowa and a sliver of southeast Nebraska will see a surge in 2014 when a 17-year-cycle hatches, Holscher said.

For this year, the final cicada songs are being sung.

The last ones are fading out,” Holscher said.

Contact the writer: Nancy Gaarder    |   402-444-1102    |  

Nancy writes about weather, including a blog, Nancy's Almanac. She enjoys explaining the science behind weather and making weather stories relevant in daily life.

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